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I have noticed that a lot of web sites that contains product category pages give the user an option to toggle between a list view and a table view of their products. Usually the only difference between the views is how the product image is placed relative to the product info. The toggle-buttons is usually grouped together in the upper right corner, above the products. I've seen this on YouTube and various other sites.

I have myself never used them or tested if a visitor really clicks on them. I think that they are usually a redundant feature. Is this the case?

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It may be an assumption, but I wouldn't be surprised if the wealth of stores using grid and list views are because they are using the open source eCommerce platform Magento for their eCommerce site, and out-of-the-box Magento offers the switch between grid and list. (here is a Demo Magento site) – JonW Apr 10 '12 at 7:43
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Table views are able to respond to flexible width websites better, but as flexible width can lead to all sorts of problems, the designer is better off selecting the solution that fits the data best, and forcing it on all users.

I have worked on a major website where the customer can choose between table, list and text views and the data shows that very very few people do it and it gives the developers 3 times as much work when changing it.

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Generally, table/list view option is not necessary.

There is a mental cost in making any choice (Hick's Law). So if both the choices show the same data, then the choice is moot.

Personally, I think a designer should strive to create one view that is useful for majority, if not all users.

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I can imagine uses for them, but they're the edge case for sure.

A more successful model would be something like Amazon, where you display a list but then offer filters to drill down. That gives you some of the functionality of having a table sort by a specific column.

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